The 2019 Vian, Oklahoma Tornado was a deadly, violent, catastrophic and record EF5-rated tornado that struck Central Oklahoma in the evening to night of May 15, 2019. 175 people died, along with 4,223 injuries and a thirdly record of $24.96 billion (2019 USD).
Setting many records including the longest duration and track, the tornado is noted as one of the most violent tornadoes ever. Tracking over 320 miles, the tornado was able to stay on the ground for so long because of a strong jet stream.
The EF5 was apart of a outbreak from the 13th to the 17th, causing other long-tracked and violent tornadoes. Scientists, who studied the event, concluded that due to the strong jet stream and multiple weak tornadoes along the path of the storm caused the tornado to stay on the ground for 5 hours and 51 minutes.
The EF5 started near Short. After undergoing intense intensification, the EF5 absolutely destroyed hundreds of homes, businesses, churches, mosques, buildings, factories, and even car dealerships.
Scientists believe the reason why the Vian EF5 had very fast wind speeds and lasted for so long was because the jet stream that positioned itself over Oklahoma had wind speeds up to 450 mph (724 km/h).
The Vian EF5 set many tornado records: from the longest track to the longest duration, the Vian EF5 has baffled scientists ever since the massive EF5 tore a 337 mile path across Oklahoma in nearly 6 hours. The track and duration beat out the well-known Tri-State Tornado, which on March 18, 1925, tore a 219-mile path for over 3 and a half hours.
On May 15, a 20% chance for large, violent tornadoes was evident after a deep low surface with low pressure and a strong jet stream positioned over Central Oklahoma formed a supercell. By 11:30 AM CDT, a confirmed 17 tornadoes touched down in the state, causing minimal damage.
After multiple funnel clouds being visible, a funnel cloud touched down 0.7 miles east of Short. After downing a few trees at EF0 strength, the tornado slowly intensified. Hitting Marble City, low-end EF1 damage occurred to a house as the roof was severely stripped. Intensifying into a high-end low-end EF1, another 16 homes sustained major roof damage near the town of Sallisaw.
Even more EF1 damage was done along I-40 as hundreds of trees were downed and a few more homes sustained minor roof damage. Crossing the road, the EF1 briefly became a waterspout after moving onto the Robert S. Kerr Reservoir.
Moving back towards I-40, high-end EF1 damage was sustained to a mobile home, critically injuring a 93 year-old woman. With winds sustained at 110 mph, a dozen more shallow-rooted trees were pushed over before the tornado underwent rapid intensification.
At 5:21 PM CDT after being on the ground for 17 minutes, the EF1 underwent insane rapid intensification, becoming a violent EF4 by 5:35 PM CDT. Impacting the town of McKey, high-end EF4 damage occurred to dozens of homes, inflicting 7 fatalities and 45 injuries.
Heading straight for the town of Vian, a tornado emergency was declared for the entire county of Sequoyah after multiple doppler radar trucks recorded wind speeds over 320 mph (514 km/h). EF5 damage occurred 2 miles outside of Vian where multiple well-built homes near I-40 were completely swept away, where another 4 fatalities occurred and 16 injuries.
Reaching wind speeds of over 340 mph (547 km/h), another 26 people were killed after a neighborhood in Vian was demolished, causing another 49 injuries.
Intensifying even further, the monster impacted the town of Gore, causing even more EF5 damage in the area and causing 2 deaths and 65 injuries. Causing even more damage, the tornado slightly weakened to 325 mph winds before regaining the strength and impacting the town of Martin.
After causing another 17 deaths were confirmed and 72 injuries after the EF5 hit the center of the town, the tornado reached peak strength between Okataha and Wainwright.
Impacting the town of Eram, 6 deaths and 4 injuries occurred at a Subway and the tornado picked up in forward speed. Being clocked at 91 mph (146 km/h), the EF5 had the 3rd fastest forward speeds by a violent tornado, behind the EF5's that hit Tushka, Oklahoma and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma on July 18, 2018 with forward speeds of 99 mph (159 km/h) and 96 mph (154 km/h), respectively.
Continuing to track at EF5 intensity, a line of well-built, refurbished vacant brick homes were completely swept away with dozens of trees being denuded near Morris. Continuing to track in Muskogee County, ground scouring with a depth of up to 36 inches occurred. The city of Okmulgee took a direct hit, killing 10 and injuring 641. Either most or all homes in and around Okmulgee were destroyed. Damage in this area reached $150 million. Barely dodging the town of Nuyaka, hundreds of trees were debarked and denuded and a 51 year-old man was severely injured by a sharp piece of wood. The towns of Etna and Slick were barely missed by the EF5.
The tornado struck the edges of the towns of Milfay and Stroud. Luckily, no one was killed, but 48 were injured, 12 critically. Crossing I-44, the tornado barely missed cars but stripping the asphalt and digging another 31 inches into the ground. The town of Kendrick was barely missed by the EF5. Still keeping it's strength, the EF5 then continued to cause havoc, stripping asphalt from the road, denuding trees, and digging 30 inch trenches into the ground.
Crossing I-44 again, the tornado passed in between city of Chandler and the town of Warwick. After tracking for over 20 miles of mostly trees and open land, the EF5, which lost a little strength, hit the north side of the town of Jones, where 1 person was killed, along with 63 injuries and the deepest hole made from the tornado occurred. The hole was measured at 41 inches. Researchers believe this is where the EF5 truly hit peak strength.
Severe damage was done to dozens of buildings, killing 73 and injuring 3,206. $19 billion alone was done in Downtown Oklahoma City. Passing just north of Okarche in Canadian County, the EF5 killed 2 on multiple farms, completely sweeping away the farms, tossing farm vehicles over 2,000 yards and stripping roads of asphalt.
Passing a mile south of Kingfisher, vegetation was completely wiped off and the ground was severely scoured, along with the asphalt of roads being ripped off the ground. Passing in between Hitchcock and Loyal, the EF5 finally began to weaken. Going from 335 mph winds to 230 mph winds, ground scouring wasn't as severe and the road stripping was also not as severe. Oakwood was missed to the south by less than 2 miles.
Weakening to a high-end EF4, 12 were killed in the town of Camargo. Ground scouring occurred and trees were debarked and denuded at high-end EF3 strength near the town of Fargo. The final 6 were killed in northern Woodward. At 10:55 PM CDT after being on the ground for almost 6 hours, the monster EF5 finally lifted north of Woodward.
In all, 175 people were killed, 4,223 more were injured, and $24.96 billion (2019 USD) in damages, which is the third most in US history. It took Oklahoma almost 9 months to fully recover from the effects of this massive tornado.
The day after the tornado, the NWS sent dozens of survey teams due to how long the path was. In all, the tornado tracked a record 327.37 miles and was up to 2.4 miles wide.